Required to Encourage

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Kings and civil leaders must offer encouragement in order to rule effectively and overcome opposition. Discouraged people tend to become disloyal and unproductive, and are set up for defeat. Encouraged people tend to be loyal, confident, and productive. This is true not only in the civil realm, but also in the family, the church, and every human institution.

God has given each of us a responsibility to encourage others within our own sphere of influence. In the case of a father or spiritual teacher, Paul said, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thes 2:11, NIV) A father is supposed to encourage his children, not frustrate or degrade them (Eph. 6:4, Col. 3:21). Paul says that’s the fatherly way, and he applies that idea to the spiritual teacher, such as the apostle or prophet or evangelist (the “we” of 1 Thessalonians includes Paul, Silas, and Timothy). Kings, fathers and spiritual leaders must lead with encouragement.

The demand to be encouraging was stressed by Paul in his letter to Timothy the evangelist. He directed Timothy to “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Tim 4:2 NIV) Paul’s emphasis here shows us that encouraging, inspiring confidence, is a regular part of an evangelist’s leadership role. And that encouragement must be undertaken regularly, whether convenient or not, whether in the mood or not, and must be engaged in with determination, care, and forethought. It is impossible for a spiritual leader, or a parent, to “correct and rebuke” in a genuine godly way unless they also encourage.

This same need to be an encourager is found in the description of the work an elder. “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 1:9 NIV) Encouragement here is not a vague pat on the back, but knowledgeable communication of truth in positive terms. Sound doctrine is very encouraging. Leaders in the church and the family must realize that they have responsibility to stress the positive — to encourage– that their position calls for building up rather than tearing down (2 Cor. 10:8, 13:10).

God demands that his people, not only leaders, encourage the oppressed and discouraged. Failure to encourage is sin in God’s sight.

Isaiah 1:15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. (NIV)

Heb. 3:12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (NIV)

Heb 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)

Needed encouragement, especially from leaders, may include reminders of responsibility.

2 Chr 35:1 Josiah celebrated the Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 He appointed the priests to their duties and encouraged them in the service of the LORD’s temple. 3 He said to the Levites, who instructed all Israel and who had been consecrated to the LORD: “Put the sacred ark in the temple that Solomon son of David king of Israel built. It is not to be carried about on your shoulders. Now serve the LORD your God and his people Israel. 4 Prepare yourselves by families in your divisions, according to the directions written by David king of Israel and by his son Solomon. 5 “Stand in the holy place with a group of Levites for each subdivision of the families of your fellow countrymen, the lay people. 6 Slaughter the Passover lambs, consecrate yourselves and prepare for your fellow countrymen, doing what the LORD commanded through Moses.” (NIV)

In fact, developing leaders for the church also requires encouragement.

Acts 18:27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. (NIV)

Some are naturally or spiritually gifted for encouragement and should use their gift diligently.

Romans 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (NIV)

But each of us can and must encourage and be encouraged in good things.

1 Thes 4:18 Therefore encourage each other with these words. (NIV)

1 Thes 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)

1 Thes 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (NIV)

Romans 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, (NIV)

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